Sunday, July 29, 2012

Okay- still no updates... here's why: In a severe depression this past week

Maybe tomorrow...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I'll Be Back

I promise... I'm coming back soon. Plan to get caught up this weekend. Until then, check out my intro on my other blog.  Thanks for your patience... I'll be back!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Step Away From the Pit of Depression

A personal account of a depressive episode... how to FIGHT depression...or at least try.

I am on the edge of the black hole... hoping to write myself away from it today, Change my perspective somehow. I DON'T WANT THIS MENTAL ILLNESS TO DEFEAT ME! I have to rely on Jesus to get me through these times. Darkness seems to dominate my days lately. Losing (my former best friend) is a big reason for the recent darkness, I know. I'm back to feeling completely alone in this world and not trusting what people say. She helped raised Jireh!! How could she just walk away? I maintained contact with my brother for years simply for the sake of my niece… I bit my tongue and licked my wounds and went back into the ring for because I wanted my niece in my life. Now that she is old enough to email and has my email information, my brother and I have ceased what little relationship we had. We wished each other well and went opposite ways. If my niece wants to contact me, she knows where I am. The last time I saw my former best friend (FBF), I was bawling because she was loving on Jireh, and I knew it would be for the last time. I mustered, “She loves you so much…”

Any other relationship, I would have just accepted it was over and left. But I’ve tried several times to reconcile with the FBF for the sake of Jireh. The last time was a week ago, when I left a voice mail apologizing, asking if there was anyway we could talk and both Jireh and I miss her in my life. There was no response.

This is when I started spiraling down… this past week… thinking, thinking, THINKING myself into a frenzy. The bitterness returned, the cynicism, defensiveness, the person I was last winter, during the lowest, scariest point of my life. I vowed the same vows, ‘no one will ever hurt me again’, blah, blah, blah. This turned into self-pity, how I am ultimately alone (Existential theory enter here) until I was confined to bed for most of yesterday.

I slept restlessly, having the hole in my gut return. Lord, why won’t you just take me home? I thought (and felt) Job’s cry in 7:16: I despise my life… let me alone: my days have no meaning.

But the morning has brought a fresh perspective (which I pray I keep);
1.    When I was ready to give up… I was planning to leave Jireh to the FBF, believing Jireh would be happier with her. I realize this is not true! If she could let go of Jireh as she did, I am soooo thankful I did not leave Jireh with her. I put Jireh first. Jireh gets me up everyday, gets me outside the house, gets me to the dog park where I am forced to socialize… I mean, Jireh makes me fight every force in my body to make sure she has a quality of life. Jireh is with me 90% of the time and I love her and talk to her and play with her… Jireh has a good life. I’m not sure she would if I left her with someone else.
2.    Addy the cat is the same way. We sleep together. We work together. She is at my side whenever I am on my laptop. Addy gets the most expensive cat food before I get milk. I make sure Addy has a quality of life. if I wasn’t here, I am not sure that would happen.
3.    Once again, there are soooo many people in this world! Why do we let our heart’s break over one or two relationships that didn’t work out! I definitely am not flippantly saying, ’let go and move on’… it’s way too hard for that. But don’t allow your destiny to be determined by one or two people who hurt you.
4.    Relationships are hard, as you know. Tread carefully. But if someone lays out their cards up front (disclosing something as personal as depression), be prepared. Know what you are getting into. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
5.    This goes along with number #4: “Forever” is a very long time. KNOW AND MEAN what you are saying when you use words like “I’ll always…” and/or “I’ll never…”.  Words and broken promises hurt.

All this to say we cannot abandoned socializing. God created us for relationships. We can’t give in to the strong desire to live as a recluse and isolate our lives away. 

You and I are meant to be here until God takes us home. We all have roles that cannot be passed off to others before it is our time to leave this earth. Even if you feel you have no family or close friends who would be permanently impacted by your absence, there are roles which only you can fulfill. That is why God still has you here.

Finally, don’t let your guard down when you or someone else seems to pull out of a deep depression. Until much time has passed, one significant setback can bring you/them right back to the edge of the pit. It is at this time, you must review the five points above, and get on your knees and pray hard before Jesus.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Disability Related Links - Depression, Autism

I've been researching mental health blogs and getting sucked into spending the entire day reading them and now I'm depressed! My intent was to have sites for people to feel 'not alone' and accepted online since there are few places to speak openly about mental illness. There is a limit to 'peer support' evidently, still, I'll continue compiling my list.

I am also working on a Children's book on Autism Spectrum Disorders. Evidently, the new DSM is combining Autism with Aspergers, which I think is a HUGE mistake... but they didn't consult with me. One day they will...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Making & Keeping Friendships

I've been entranced by the writing of a blog writer who has mental illness and provides a unique view into the world of depression and loneliness. Her entry on the difficulty of keeping friends inspired this entry. The first part of this is a response to her entry on friendships:

I am still reading your blog... I have my own work to do, but your words have me nodding my head, saying, "Exactly!!". So few people get/understand mental illness, but you describe it so well. I am sorry for the pain - I understand the pain of depression, loneliness, isolation... and I celebrate you for using what sucks to help other people. The world needs to be educated, and most people are too scared or ignorant to open their minds to mental illness. Your blog entry on "friendship" is just what I need right now. I have lost most significant friendships due to depression really that difficult of a person?" All the promises, all the "I understands"... evidently were insincere on both ends. So, as you write, what exactly is a 'friend' and while it is easy to make friends, keeping them is the challenge. 

What I don’t understand is why we fixate on one specific person, and when the friendship has ended, we behave as if there is no one else with whom to form friendships. We behave as if our hearts will never heal because we falsely assume every other person on the planet will treat us as that person did. This is foolish to transfer one person’s qualities and faults onto everyone else.

Why can’t we see new friendships as refreshing beginnings where we start with a clean slate, bringing in all the lessons learned from our past? A relationship with no score card, no baggage…just the newness of getting to know one another. Try, try, try to push aside the hurt, bitterness and pride of the past and make a new friendship. Share what you feel comfortable sharing, be who you truly are… invest, no matter how scary and anxious it makes you. Invest. Believe this time may be different. And if it isn’t, if you are hurt again, pick yourself up and try again. the world is filled with people. Reach out. Try. Maybe alleviating the loneliness will be worth it.            

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Life with Anxiety Disorder

Medical Condition #6 – Anxiety Disorder
For the sake of space and redundancy, I will combine anxiety and PTSD in this final category. There are many forms of anxiety (social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc.) and most are characterized by excessive worry about events that are usually unlikely to happen. The anxiety attacks tend to be triggered by past events (hence, soldiers returning from combat have a high likelihood of PTSD, and many would rather not discuss the events). I’ve buried so many events that my personality has been negatively scarred by the events of years ago.

Again, there’s an endless cycle – anxiety leads to depression, leads to paralyzing feelings of staying in bed, leading to more anxiety from missing so much work. The cycle is vicious and merciless.

Speaking of ‘denial’, since I am feeling functional today, I am not going to dwell on the anxiety or other conditions anymore, at least right now. When you can put your dysfunctions aside and live, even ENJOY life… do it. Whatever it takes, live out your life!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Life with Clinical Depression

Medical Condition #5 – Major Clinical Depression actually ties with anxiety for the most debilitating diagnosis that I have been given. I am cautious in what I write since I am in a major depression right now. When my medications are right, I can be successful, having the high quality of life I have worked so hard for, which is why I constantly keep op with the latest in counseling and psychology, determined to keep my licensure.

Cautious because when I am in this deep of a depression, my emotions are fragile, irritability is through the roof, and intolerance overshadows grace. Therefore, in every aspect, I don’t like who I am! I know people who have never been clinically depressed cannot understand, yet I have no patience when I crash like this. Everyone seems to have family and/or friends to CARE, to check on them, to just sit at their bedside and hold their hand… I am sure my perceptions are largely inaccurate, which is why reading about survivors of concentration camps have been somewhat inspiring this week. Most of the homeless people have some type of mental illness, and are also alone. So I am not the only pour soul out there without a family with whom to fight depression and anxiety.

One thing that is hard to remember is depression is not always affected by external factors. People question why an individual remains depressed after obtaining a promotion or getting married. Remember, depression is primarily neurochemical, especially in long-term cases.

My life is so much better than it was a year ago – yet my depression is, well, it is best to keep quiet.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Life with A.D.D.

Medical Condition #4
Attention Deficit Disorder (A.D.D.) was diagnosed during grad school (which should have been detected no later than middle school when my GPA was close to 150 but my grades were B’s and C’s. The discrepancy was blamed on Cerebral Palsy – which still happens to students today.).  I was diagnosed because of my impulsive behavior, acting in risky ways, so the psychiatrist put me on Ritalin and I graduated cum laude. My social skills were stifled but my grades soared. I was soon switched to Adderall and faired much better with friendships. Attention Deficit Disorder prevented me from thinking things through, planning was too tedious and boring, so I impulsively acted on fleeting thoughts. Waiting my turn was difficult, I was easily irritated by ‘people wasting time’ as I had things to do, places to go. Starting things came natural to me, I had fabulous ideas… but the problem was executing the ideas. Medication was wonderful with finding a happy medium and using A.D.D.! While writing flows easier without medication, I do need the meds to send query letters and perform ‘office work’.

That pretty much sums up my life with A.D.D.. For the most part, it is more of a blessing than a curse. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Life with Crohns Disease

Medical Condition #3
Crohns Disease was diagnosed in 11th grade during my hospitalization for constant vomiting and diarrhea, not to mention severe abdominal pain. The doctor was surprised I had Crohns as I was not unhealthy weight-wise. Evidently he was saying most teens with Crohns are anorexic like. He said I would never have trouble with weight-gain (wrong!), and would have to adhere to a strict diet for the rest of my life. he said alcohol would tear up my stomach, along with peanuts and anything with roughage, such as lettuce. I can’t eat lettuce or anything spicy, and sunflower seeds are out of the question. Eating any of those leave me hunched over with severe stomach pain and on the toilet for several hours. When I think I can’t get to a toilet, such as road trips, I’ll get Crohns attacks and lose control of my bowels. This can happen in heavy traffic as well. Attacks happen during anxious and emotional events, making it an endless cycle, causing more anxiety and emotions (good or bad). Crohns definitely impacts my life in a negative manner, and I could see how people would become agoraphobic with the disease. Thank goodness, I haven’t had to have surgery to have parts of my colon removed, which is common. Crohns seems to accompany both my depression and anxiety episodes, which is like facing a hurricane and tornado at the same time. As long as I am home with access to my own personal bathroom, I can tolerate attacks. But when out in public, man… Crohns attacks are the worst!

Hope in Suffering Link

I will continue my description of personal 'conditions' later today, but until then. I wrote a great blog entry on Hope in Suffering - I must say, it's pretty good! Check it out!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Life with Asthma

Medical Condition #2 – Asthma. Not many people know I have asthma so I must have an extremely mild case. I was diagnosed with it about ten years ago when I went to an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor, which I can’t even remember why I went to the doctor. To be honest, I think a coworker told me he was handsome and I wanted to see for myself. I called in with ‘possible allergy’ symptoms and left with a nebulizer and asthma diagnosis!

Truly, I think the asthma is related to my Cerebral Palsy. According to the National Institute of Health: The majority of individuals with cerebral palsy will experience some form of premature aging by the time they reach their 40s because of the extra stress and strain the disease puts upon their bodies.  The developmental delays that often accompany cerebral palsy keep some organ systems from developing to their full capacity and level of performance.  As a consequence, organ systems such as the cardiovascular system (the heart, veins, and arteries) and pulmonary system (lungs) have to work harder and they age prematurely.
So I really don’t feel like an ‘expert’ in asthma. If it’s hot and I overextend myself, I have to rest and focus on catching my breath. If I didn’t know eventually, it will get easier to breathe, it would freak me out, so I have to comfort myself by saying I will be able to find a natural breathing flow again.

Asthma is very scary – I do not know from personal experience except to imagine how I would experience a more severe case. All I can say is I am glad nebulizers work!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Life with Cerebral Palsy

Medical Condition #1-
You can Google any medical/psychological disorder and find professional information written in generic, impersonal terms. Having been diagnosed with numerous conditions, I can share personal experiences on each, beginning with the most visible, Cerebral Palsy.

Being born with Cerebral Palsy (C.P.) hasn’t impacted my life as people assume. After all, because I was born with impacted muscle control, I know no different. Walking with an unsteady gait, talking with slurred speech, and limited dexterity/fine motor skills has been so much a part of me that I know no different.

Lots of teasing occurred during childhood, yet positive social interactions dominated the negative feedback I received. I never sat around feeling sorry for myself because I was never limited by C.P.. I guess my one ‘C.P. hang-up’ was I felt bad for the men I dated  in fact, I’d refuse to hold their hands in public because I felt sorry for them being identified as my boyfriend. Now I see it as a self-esteem issue. Whatever it was, I never had trouble making friends due merely to my C.P.

As I enter my mid-forties. I see ways C.P. is becoming more prominent as I age (which was predicted by doctors the past several years). My hands shake and fine motor skills are increasing impaired making things like carrying liquids, checking my oil, and putting coins in the laundry machines challenging. My energy isn’t what it was (but that may be due to depression), nor is my endurance. My strength does not seem to be affected, yet carrying heavy things for long distances is weakening.

Perhaps the greatest challenge I face aging with C.P. is the frequency of falling. I recently (and joyfully) was given an Assistance Dog who helps me steady myself when I getting up from a fall. She also helps greatly with my depression and anxiety, which will be addressed in future articles.

In conclusion, for the most part, C.P. has been such a ‘non-issue’ that I rarely considered it. This is slowly changing as I am becoming middle-aged.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Depression and Medication

Someone asked me about 'normal' depression versus major depression, especially those requiring medication. Here is my response:

I wanted to comment about you saying therapists say just stop being depressed! I'd get a new therapist QUICKLY. Sounds like a burned-out therapist to me! A legend in the psychology field (Irvin Yalom speaking of Karen Horney) once said, "the human being has an inbuilt propensity toward self-realization. If obstacles are removed, the individual will develop into a mature, fully realized adult, just as an acorn will develop into an oak tree." The task of the therapist is to remove obstacles blocking the patient's path. So first, identify the obstacles to being the person the patient aspires to be, then work on ways to remove those obstacles. Sometimes the obstacles are deeply rooted, like incest, abandonment, etc. When THAT happens, the brain literally forms differently, causing malfunctioning neuropathways and messed up neurotransmitters. Patients usually have lifetime mental illness, requiring medication to regulate (or normalize) the neurotransmitters, along with counseling to form healthy thinking patterns.

Then there is situational depression which occurs after a death, divorce, or other 'situation' - hence the name, This usually is treated by counseling without the need for medication. If the depression lasts longer than 6 months, the patient needs to  be evaluated for possible dysthymia (which is a low-grade depression where the patient feels sad and blah, but it doesn't interfere with major life functioning, where medication may or may not be used.

What I have is the first - Major Clinical Depression, Recurrent is the official diagnosis. My childhood events have messed up my brain. People may not believe this - I don't want to believe it, but our brains are formed the first 20 years of life. Without the right environment, brains are messed up. That is what causes addictive personalities, alcoholics, child molesters, etc. People grow up to be what they were exposed to. 

Hope that answers your questions. Remember, you cannot just 'snap out of a clinical depression'. Why would people willingly be depressed?

Upbeat Update

The following is from a Facebook response I posted… it pretty much sums up where I am now. God spoke to me in a HUGE way… He has given me strength, hope, and determination that I have been lacking for a long time. Yesterday, an elder and church staff member dropped everything just to listen to me. THAT MEANT THE WORLD TO ME! I don’t expect people to do that all the time. I know the world doesn’t revolve around me. Maybe because after 21 years of being on antidepressants, I have been off of them for a month… I felt emptier, lonelier, and more disposable than ever. I didn’t want to go to church, yet I knew God would show up… and He did. This is a summation of what happened:

I attend a great church now and had a long talk with an elder and staff yesterday. That helped TREMENDOUSLY. I told them how alone I felt and I don't even have an emergency contact... they gave me THREE emergency contact numbers! I told them how hard it is is not to have a family or close friends... like who would have my funeral if I die? They said, "We will... we are your family. That is what we are trying to tell you!". I barely receive enough money to pay my medical costs and refuse to keep taking 'hand outs', so they are giving me ways to 'earn money' to cover bills until I get back on my feet. They are amazing. I'm using this for my blog because I finally have hope again. I go to the doctor tomorrow; and the psychiatrist talked last time about sending me to intensive 6 months treatment to deal with my issues, but after talking to Lee and Cheryl, I feel strong enough to do this... I can fight the loneliness, meet new people, keep serving at my church, write my way out of poverty, and FIGHT. Going into the hospital would be the wimpy thing to do. I AM A CHILD OF ALMIGHTY GOD!! I DON'T GIVE UP! Don't you give up either! If you feel hopeless and DO want to give up, visit my blog, Believe in Grace. I have a lot of work to add to it, yet am aiming it to readers with no one to talk to, nowhere to turn...